Friday, November 6, 2009

You've got a really nice profile.

Facebook. A hotbed for judgment. The "Don't"s are easy enough to figure out: nobody wants to be the guy with the emo status updates every fifteen minutes; nobody wants to be the girl who posts (or worse, tags) a zillion Photobooth glamour shots of questionable attractiveness. Nobody wants to be caught with a band in their Favorite Music section that other people have heard of. Certain rules of social networking go without saying.

But what about the "Do"s? How do you send a message to your friends (and that rando you sat by in high school math class) that you are witty, pretty, and gritty enough to warrant their attention? I'll tell you this: the runway ain't the only place trends are born. Arm yourself against the disgrace of being caught with last season's profile. Consider this your Bible to handling your digital self with aplomb.

General Notes: Capitalization is a personal choice; proper punctuation is not. If you want to be Facebook trendy, you should probably avoid ending sentences with anything other than a period. One exclamation point? Reserved for extreme situations. Multiple exclamation points? The kiss of death. Also treacherous: hearts, emoticons and anything cutesy. You, may, however, make ironic use of ~*~aStEriSkS aNd TiLdEs~*~ when it is clear you are mocking people who use these symbols in earnest.

Profile Picture: Sure, it's tempting to slap up a photo of you rocking the Skinny Arm and a cleavage-baring top. But the true Facebook champs are all about the candid (or "candid") shot. Three points if you're not looking at the camera; five points if your hair is in front of your face; ten points for a jutting collarbone. Bad lighting is also crucial. A glass of wine is the only appropriate alcoholic beverage for a profile picture, and even then, holding it must never look like a conscious decision. If you're going to have people other than you in your photo, make sure they look good (but not better than you). If you must display the poster for a show or Greek philanthropy, delete it from your album immediately after it's over.

Status: Only when necessary, only when promoting something, only when so side-splittingly hilarious that it must be shared with all of your "friends." Never betraying actual emotion. Never when detailing the mundanities of your day. Never about the weather (we know).

That Awkward Little Box Under Your Photo: The hippest of the hip leave it empty. The next-hippest write either a quote, song lyric or inside joke that is incomprehensible to the greater population because it is a) uncredited to the original author/speaker or b) in another language.

Basic Information: Less is more: include only your birthday and hometown, if possible (but if you're a boy and don't list anything under Interested In, don't be surprised when people assume you're gay, particularly if your political views are "Very Liberal"). Under no circumstances is "Random Play" an acceptable response to Looking For. When it comes to Political and Religious Views, think carefully about the kind of image you want to project to the world. Post your real ones if you must (though people who care will know them anyway), but be prepared to look like an asshole if you list something like "Baby Pandas" or a YouTube link to "Single Ladies."

Personal Information: This is your time to shine on an otherwise minimalist page. To take full advantage, list only that which is unique to you, particularly in the Interests section. Here are two examples of appropriately trendy Facebook profiles, reproduced with the permission of their owners:


Clean. Clever. Indie. Intelligent. This girl has piqued your interest without giving too much of herself away. This next approach, on the other hand, leaves a bit less to the imagination:


I don't generally endorse Facebooks that can't be contained by a screenshot, but this one is well-written enough to warrant an exception. If you're going to make us read all of that, it had better be damn good. If you have more than ten Favorite Movies/Books/TV Shows listed, you need to consider the meaning of the word "favorite." If your Quotes section is a collection of motivational clichés, you need to consider a career with Chicken Soup for the Soul.

The trickiest part of Personal Information is About Me. Perfection comes in the one-sentence form, ideally a song lyric that happens to also describe you perfectly ("Lady in the street, but a freak in the bed" springs to mind). Don't write anything that can already be found elsewhere on your profile.

Wall Posts: Northwestern Facebook celebrity Tyler Baranski weighs in on Wall etiquette: "Stop posting 'We MUST hang out soon! HAPPENING.' on Walls. Guess what: you two aren't already hanging out for a reason." Ouch. "Make your Wall posts concise and witty and people will love you," he continues. "Over three sentences? That's probably a message. Nobody wants to read anything just between two people; Walls are for entertainment purposes only. As for the videos? Think real hard if you want everyone to see that." This from the mouth of a pro, ladies and gents.

Baranski's off-the-Wall pet peeves? "Mass inviting people to your group/event that lets us know you've lost your phone. First off, you never had my number in the first place, and I'm not about to post it on a Wall. Secondly, if I'm not important enough to ask in person, you don't really want my number anyway, so let's save me the headache of clicking 'Ignore'," (Isn't he a delightful little fountain of sass?). I'm a bit more lenient when it comes to these; I've been in that situation, and I think an event is an acceptable way to collect the essential phone numbers (a group, however, is a no-no). Invites should be delivered with care, no matter how easy it is to press "Select All." Ditto for groups, events and pages in general. And don't invite me again if I say no.

As for Work Info, Contact Info, Groups, etc., be discerning. Less. Is. More. That's all.

Facebook trends, much like runway trends, can be absorbed or rejected; crafting your Facebook in a way that speaks to your chosen persona is certainly your prerogative. Just be aware that a public forum like Facebook is a way by which people come to "know" you, especially people who don't interact with you a great deal in real life. Your Facebook is the digital equivalent of your wardrobe: armor through which those around you view the self you choose to project day-to-day. If this makes you uncomfortable (and maybe it should), leave it bare. Force people to get to know you in person. If you're up for the challenge of letting them see enough of you that they want to see more...Godspeed, and happy Facebooking.

1 comment:

Emily said...

Bitch I can have 17 favorite movies if I want to!